Dispute Over Alcalde Appointment Sparks Tensions in Indian Creek Village
Tensions remain high in Indian Creek Village in the Toledo district over the appointment of a new alcalde and a deputy. The villagers applied to the Attorney General’s Ministry last year to have former Alcalde Jose Choc and deputy alcalde Fellepe Sam replaced. Choc called a meeting in the village yesterday in collaboration with the Toledo Alcaldes’ Association to explain that he will be challenging the decision in court. The villagers turned up en-masse to protest Choc’s challenge. Pablo Mis, Technical Support officer for the Alcalde’s Association explained that the matter needs to go to court to settle this dispute and any future disputes of the same nature.
Pablo Mis, Technical Support Officer, Toledo Alcalde Association: “Last year a situation arose here in Indian Creek where a petition was passed by the village council requesting for the removal of the then elected Alcaldes of the village. A total of about 91 people signed a petition that was sent to the office of the Attorney General. Consequently, another petition was circulated by the sitting alcalde then where about 228 villagers expressed their concern of the actions of that the village council raised. The Toledo Alcalde Association was in touch with the Attorney General’s ministry and as late as about a week ago the attorney of the Toledo Alcalde Association in her communication with the Attorney General did confirm that the Attorney General issued an order installing the newly elected appointed alcaldes by the village council. The Alcalde Association raised some concern over that especially given that the tradition is that the village elects and removes its alcalde and the Attorney General basically does a ceremonial appointment of alcaldes. We have warned the ministry that this situation is becoming tense but that the villages need to have some sense of direction in terms of their governance. Consequently upon the request of the ousted alcaldes they have asked for representation before the court for this matter to be reviewed, whether the Attorney General had the lawful authority to appoint, essentially elect and appoint alcaldes on his own on the power of the petition from the village council. So today we’re here to explain to the village that process. We’re not here at all to say that either is the leadership but that this is a matter that is now going to go before the court based on the request of the ousted alcaldes for a review of the authority. The Attorney General’s office has agreed that this is a matter that needs to be guided by the court so that we can avoid having a recurrence of these kind of matters.”
Village Chairman Ernesto Choc attended the protest yesterday to emphasize that the change in alcalde was the will of the people. Village resident Rehinalio Makin also called on Choc and the Alcalde’s association to respect the decision of the villagers.
Ernesto Choc, Chairman, Indian Creek Village: “I told him that he does not have any right to come in our village to say that the farmer alcalde is still in position. We don’t want that. The people voice, the people talk, the people say that they want a change for the alcalde so that’s why we do this. We need a change. So now the new alcalde has received their letters that there are alcaldes right now, they’re in their position right now.”
Rehinalio Makin, Villager, Indian Creek: “We have received a letter from the office of the Attorney General stating that the new alcalde elect, Mr. Manuel Ak and Mr. Nicolas Choc second alcalde are the new alcalde and that is already being appointed by the AG which is one of the highest office in Belize. So that is what we are respecting and that is what we are begging the other side of our community, TAA, MLA to respect our decision, respect the decision of the majority of the people here in Indian Creek because we are the one who elected these people and if they are not doing their job we must. find someone else who will do the job.”
The newly appointed alcalde is Manuel Ack, along with Nicholas Cho as his deputy. The villagers say that they will go to whatever lengths necessary to ensure the change is upheld. We’ll be following this story as it develops.////